Trumbull – Dear Children – A Momentous Week – August, 1945

 Trumbull, Conn.,   August 12, 1945

Dear Children:

What a momentous week this has been! The atomic bomb – – the Russian declaration of war – – the Jap offer to quit (on condition) – – the full account of Dan’s wedding. Both internationally and personally, what untold future possibilities are opened up for you all! Almost overnight the whole aspect of things changes and the long hoped-for day when you can all be home again draws appreciably nearer. One has to sort of pause and think and even then is unable to visualize the endless changes in present outlook and future potentials of these stirring days. Of course the big thing that is most obvious is the time when you will be coming back, but big as this seems to us now, the harnessing of the atom for man’s service for peace-time use is almost too big for man’s mind to grasp its fullest significance. We are truly living in a great age, and while I may not live to see its maximum development, you boys have a wonderful prospect before you.

Meantime, to get back to earth, I don’t suppose you boys individually know any more about what the next few weeks have in store for you that we do here. Here are a few of the many questions that step on each other’s heels. Will Dave stay in Okinawa? Will he be part of the Jap army of occupation? Will he be home for Christmas? Will the end of the war affect Jean’s permit to go to Brazil, or is that a permanent enough base so that Dick may be expected to stay there for some time yet. If so, how long? Has Lad already left for the Pacific? If so, how far has he gotten and will he continue or will the Army cancel, with VJ day, all shipment of further men to CBI area? How soon will they lower the point release figures so that Dan can qualify for discharge and when can he and Paulette come home? Will Ced stay in Anchorage or come home? Will a lot of planes now be thrown on the market so he can pick up one very cheap, either around here or up there? Anyone finding the answer to any of these questions may earn a generous reward by communicating with the writer. (I can’t forget I’m an advertising man).

As to Dan’s wedding, which refuses to be blacked out by international developments and which we have been all waiting for so long to hear about in detail, I am attaching collateral accounts of the event by one of the victims and a sympathetic spectator. We will lack the feminine touch (what the bride wore, etc.) which, in truly masculine manner, the eyewitnesses have failed to record, but maybe Paulette will supply these details so dear to the feminine heart, for Marian’s and Jean’s benefit, to say nothing of the sisters and the cousins and the aunts. I have received a most friendly letter from M. Senechal written in quaint English, which I prize most highly and in which he speaks in glowing terms of Dan. (This note will be quoted in Grandpa’s next letter.)

Telegrams and letters from Jean announced safe arrival at Miami. She says: “The plane trip was quite wonderful, except from Washington to Columbia, where it was really pretty rough. We ran into such a thick fog I couldn’t even see the wing of the plane, and we had many air pockets making the plane drop and rock and roll. That’s when my stomach did a few flip-flops and my heart skipped a few beats. I was more than a little scared. After we left Columbia, tho, it was really beautiful. The weather was clear and I could look down and

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see all the cities. Then I relaxed and concentrated on my magazines. Why, I feel just like an old timer at flying. They served us lunch after we left Washington – – stew, mashed potatoes, frozen peas, radishes, olives, hot rolls, butter, tomato salad, peach tart and coffee. It was so good I ate every bit of it. When we left Jacksonville they gave us our dinner – – fried chicken, beets, string beans, roles, melon and cherry salad, coffee, pudding and cookies. It’s pretty wonderful, the things they can do on a plane. Of course they don’t cook these things on it – – they are put on the plane at a stop nearest the time were supposed to eat and then kept warm in containers. We got to Miami a little after 9 and the Danby’s met me. They have a darling house about 7 miles from the city. It’s nice and cool out there – – not at all as I had expected it. Wednesday I reported. They gave me two shots, one in each arm, for typhoid and yellow fever. I have to have three more, so I’ll be here for a while yet, and then, when my passport comes, I can be on my way. (Later letter said the passport had come).

Ced, Just a few minutes ago Ted Southworth came in and told me that last week he had been hired to fly a ship back from Georgia to Mass. and that down there were from 3 to 4000 planes of every description that the Army is selling (the bigger ones on time) and that Art Woodley, if he hasn’t already covered his needs, might write, as you could also, to the R.F.C., Bush field, Augusta, Ga., and ask for a list of the planes for sale. Taylorcraft, Aeronca and Pipers such as you are interested in, and of which there are hundreds, sell from 550 to 1150, while the larger biplanes such as the Fairchild (open job) sell from $850 to 1275. The 1-2’s, he says, seem to be in excellent condition. Art might be interested in the Lockheed transports they have, Lodestar, Ventura, Hudson or possibly the Twin Beaches. What they can’t sell they will probably scrap or burn.

Dave, there is nothing new about the camera. The Rangers did not hold any blowout here for Johnny Vichieola last Saturday.

Dan, I am wondering if you received the package containing your tripod. What happens if you have sailed for the states? Do they follow you back home or return to sender?

Dick, I asked Jean if she would ask you to send me another box of Brazilian cigars. Let me know the cost and I will remit. If this gets to you before your birthday, many happy returns I’ll be thinking of you and hoping and wishing all good things.

Lad, thanks for sending me the maps of Paris prepared for servicemen. I tried to locate Drancy but the maps were not on a large enough scale, showing Paris only. It was interesting to see the location of various places one hears so much about.

How would you boys like to have some nice homemade rhubarb pie, rhubarb from our own garden baked by Marian’s masterly hand? We had some for dinner today. In our present frame of mind, I’ll gladly pick some more and she’ll gladly bake if you’ll promise to drop in before the month is out. Are you on? Meanwhile, atomically yours,

DAD

Tomorrow, another letter from Grandpa letting us know what has been going on in Trumbull for the past week. Things are moving fast right now and it is hard to keep up.

On Saturday and Sunday, more installments of the Autobiography of Mary E Wilson.

Next week, we’ll jump back to 1941 as the war moves closer to Trumbull and Grandpa’s sons.

Judy Guion

Army Life – The Gospel According to St. Lad – August, 1945

The Gospel According to St. Lad.

(Because Dan had not been able to locate a Scottish friend of his in Calais, he had not been able to locate a place for me to sleep, so with the aid of a feather mattress and blankets on the floor, I’ve slept since I’ve not slept since I left the states. It was wonderful!)

On the day of the wedding Dan came in about 8 o’clock and woke me, suggesting that I get up right away. That I did and after folding the blankets and straightening up the room a bit, I went out to the kitchen for breakfast. That consisted of a cup (chipped in with no handles) of coffee and a piece of bread and butter. That was the extent of the variety but I could have all of it I wanted. I just had one of each. One at a time the others showed up and by nine everyone had eaten if he desired. Then the rush for the bathroom began but I succeeded in getting a shave about 10 or a little after while the girls were helping Paulette get dressed in her room up on the third floor. All this time there were last-minute preparations being made by the male members of the household, as well. Shoes to be shined, last-minute mending of buttons, etc., on old clothes and general sprucing up. The house was hectic and Mme. Senechal said that next time she would never have an

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American as a son-in-law. (As Paulette is her last daughter she shall have her wish. By eleven someone realized what time it was and an uproar started. The wedding was scheduled for 11:30 and Dan and Paulette, plus close relatives of each, had to go to the City Hall to sign certain papers beforehand, so we all dashed out to the hired cars and took off. The signing of the papers was rather a formal procedure in itself and we were marched in, in procession, like the wedding ceremony itself. The official, a friend of everyone there, had just gotten his appointment a few days before he was rather happy, but everything went off O.K. (by “happy” I mean pleased at the office”.) We each, after taking an oath, which I didn’t understand, but upon which I was enlightened by Dan, signed our names to three or four papers and then, following custom, Paulette, starting with Dan and going the rounds, passsed a plate for contributions for the poor. It seems that it happens at every gathering, the bride-to-be passed it at the paper signing conference. After that we marched formally out again and got back into the cars.

The church was almost across the street from the Senechal pharmacy-home, so the cars drove away after leaving us at the church. Incidentally, this was the first time an American had been married in Calais so there were crowds everywhere we went, just gazing. The church, from the street, looked just like somebody’s home or a business building, as do all the houses in French cities and it is hard to tell which is which until you get out of the business district. Inside, however, it looked like a rather nice place, but not a very prosperous one. At least it was clean. Just a few minutes late the ceremony started as a small organ played the wedding march and after we all were in our places, the priest began the longest oration I’ve ever listened to. For about 45 minutes he talked, very very frequently saying “je suis avec vous, tontes les jours”. He repeated it so much that later in the afternoon someone asked me if I’d like to have him with me, like he was apparently going to be with Dan and Paulette.

About 1:30 we got out of the church and went across the street to the house. There, preparations had begun for a sumptuous feast, and about 2:30 or 3:00, after extensive picture taking, the meal got underway. What we had to eat you have to ask Paulette, I imagine, but it consisted of eight or 10 courses, and as I was not informed beforehand, I could only do justice to about 3. And anyway, I wasn’t feeling too good. My stomach was acting up a little, but after drinking quite a few varieties of wine plus some good cognac that Dan had gotten from where, I felt better and had a fairly good time.

At 4:00, Dan and Chiche had an appointment with the photographer, so while they were gone things were practically at a standstill. But upon their return, the party resumed. About eight or nine we got up from the table and the room was cleared of all “debris”, while everyone got ready for a dance. A two piece orchestra, accordion and saxophone, came in plus all the Senechal’s friends and their friends and we danced (frog-hop mostly) until about 2 A.M. The party broke up when, much to everybody’s consternation, Dan and Paulette made a break, assisted by myself and two of her sisters. For about 30 seconds we were able to hold off a few of the more aggressive, giving them time to get to Paulette’s room and lock the door. The next day Dan told me he was worried, fearing that they were going to break the locks, but other than finding and trying from 20 to 30 different keys, they left them alone. Right after that the party broke up and everyone went home.

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During the day, Dan’s Scottish friend came in, so he had told me where to sleep, and a Canadian, Jack, another friend, had suffered (?) with me. At the table there was quite a representation. Friends of the Senechals made up the French representation. There were also people from Scotland, England, Canada, Denmark, Belgium and the U.S. — seven countries.

Next morning after breakfast I went back to the Senechals. There I also had some coffee and went out to sit on the back porch. The Sears Roebuck catalog was the only reading material so I read that until the household got up. Although I failed to mention it earlier, everyone, with the exception of Paulette and “Papa”, thought at one time or another that I was Dan. I never thought we resembled each other but the people there were always calling me “Dan”. Anyway, while I was sitting on the porch, “Maman” got up and seeing “Dan” out there alone thought, “Already they’ve had a fight”, so she came all the way over to the chair before she realized. Upon recognition she was so happy she broke into laughter and woke up the rest and they all went in to breakfast.

Tomorrow and Friday I’ll post another letter from Grandpa with updates on the entire family.

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be continuing the Autobiography of Mary E. Wilson.

Judy Guion

Army Life – The Gospel According To St. Dan – August, 1945

The Gospel, according to St. Dan, Drancy, Aug. 5, 1945

To follow the somewhat erratic history of Dan, it is perhaps more feasible to follow through chronologically, beginning on or about the 9th of July, at which time he was planning to leave Drancy for Calais on the 12th.

July 10 – At breakfast, Lt. Shirk casually asked if I were ready to “parti” to Calais. “When?” “Today!” “But I thought it was to be the 12th.”  “We’ll leave today. Are your clothes packed?” Thus began a week of hectic preparations and worries. I had to send a telegram that A.M. to Calais, notifying them of the change of plans; then I had to get my laundry from the laundry; then I had to get my official papers from the C.O.’s office; that I had to get my cigarette and candy rations from the PX, then I had to pack; then I had to eat early lunch —-. We arrived at Calais about five PM — half an hour after the telegram. The Lieutenant and his chauffeur left for Ghent almost immediately, leaving orders that I was to wait there until a truck came to take me back to Paris. By a curious coincidence, Robert and Maurice (Chiche’s brothers) arrived that same evening from Algeria, relegating yours truly to a position of an all-but-forgotten kibitzer, while emotion rained after four years of frustration.

July 11 to 16. Feverish preparations, trying to get the necessary papers in order and church arrangements settled. I had to hitchhike to Lille and back to have a seal affixed to certificates. The same day Chiche went to Boulogne for other papers, only to learn that she needed my papers too. The church arrangements broke down very soon because the Catholic Church frowned on a “mixed” marriage. The day before the marriage we were still in doubt. Chiche and I went to Bologne that morning and got the final papers. In the meantime it developed that no marriage can take place in France until ten days after all the papers are in order and the banns have been published! No banns were in evidence at the City Hall. But the fault was not ours so everything smooth out at the last minute – – even the church arrangements, because we decided to be married at the Protestant Temple after the civil ceremony at the City Hall. Late that night a dusty traveler Lad) arrived from Marseille – unexpectedly — he having already written that it was impossible to come. It was a thoroughly pleasant surprise, after two and half years of separation.

July 17. Ah, fateful day! 2 knots were tied – – both by men who took a personal interest in our marriage. All of Calais seems to have turned out for the occasion, for it was the first Franco-American wedding in that area. The first ceremony took place in the marriage hall at mairie. Mr. Hubert Desfachelles performed the ceremony as mayor, altho’ he was deputized for the affair as his own request. I think he was as nervous as we. It was “the first time” for all three of us! We drove to the Temple immediately afterward, where the Rev. Dubois officiated at a double ring ceremony. He said later that he had never seen the church so crowded for a marriage ceremony. There were many more who waited outside the door for a glimpse of “les espoux” as we came out. No rice was thrown, partly because there was no rice to be had, and partly because it is not the custom here to waste good food in such prodigal fashion. After the church ceremony the public was invited to the “vin donneur” which is the French equivalent of a reception, during which time wine and cookies are served to all who can get in. Fortunately, the Senechal home is across the street from the Temple (hence the name “rue du Temple” for the street on which they live)

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so we were quickly embarked on this ceremony. Later, when the public had left we were served a sumptuous feast which represented hours of preparation and diligent searching in the black market for such luxuries as chicken and wine and a multitude of other dainties that no longer exist on the open market. That night there was dancing. “Chiche” and I heard that there was horseplay afoot, and we escaped upstairs shortly after midnight to our room. We locked both doors and kept vigil during an hour or so, during which time “they” tried to find a way to enter.

July 18 two August 1. An idyllic existence, during which time there was no worry or care save the possibility that the truck might come to take me back to Paris. For two full weeks I lived like a civilian on vacation, altho officially, I was in Calais on “Temporary Duty”. Furloughs are not authorized by the American Army to visit Calais, as it is part of the British sector – – but in order to permit the marriage, the 1st Sgt. arranged to send me on T.D. I suspect I am the only American on record whose solel “duty” during three weeks was to get married and enjoy a honeymoon! The truck came one afternoon about 3 P.M. while I was playing ping-pong with “Bob”, my new brother-in-law. Departure was mercifully swift. We had to leave immediately for Ghent where we spent two days.

Now, back in Drancy, I await the day (perhaps tomorrow) when Chiche will come to spend several days with me. The Army has not announced anything new about future plans. We are waiting to be “alerted” from day to day, but no new indications are manifest that such a move is near.

Lad arrived back in Marseille just in time to miss the boat! He is with the rear detachment and has left already for the Pacific, I presume. He doesn’t know just what route he will take, but usually the troops pass through CZ (Panama) and stop off a while in Hawaii. Love. DAN

Tomorrow I’ll post Lad’s account of the festivities.  Thursday and Friday, a letter from Grandpa posting updates on family members for family members, a quite comprehensive missive.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – A Ticket To Heaven and Sikorsky – June, 1943

At this point, as Grandpa says in the salutation, his boys are scattered. Ced is still in Alaska, Lad is in California, Dan is in Pennsylvania and Dick in in Indiana. Dave is the only one left at home since Biss is married and has two sons of her own.

Trumbull     June 13, 1943

To my Trumbull Boys

in far places:

This is one of those quiet, sunshiny, June Sundays when it is hard to realize that the peace which comes stealing in with the rustling leaves, the murmur of the brook and the play of the sunshine through the dancing leaves of our old Maple tree is not typical of the whole world. Iris and rhododendrons are now in full bloom. From where I sit now on the cement terrace, so much is reminiscent of you boys. For one thing, there is the iron pipe set between the two Maple trees near the driveway which you used to use as a chinning device. It is perhaps unusually quiet for a Sunday because the ban on gasoline has greatly reduced the number of cars passing on the road.

This morning, as usual, I donned old clothes and weeded and hoed in Mr. Laufer’s potato field, stonily watched all the while by two grotesque scarecrows set up in the neighboring cornfield, clad in old straw hat and coat. After an hour of this back bending exercise I hurried home, took a shower and arrayed in my Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, hied down to the church.

There were two reasons for this unusual religious fervor on my part. One was the fact that this being “Children’s Sunday”, Dave had been asked to conduct the morning service; and second, my youngest grandson, Marty, was to be baptized along with eight or 10 other young sprouts.

The church service was unusually well attended. Dave presided in a dignified, reserved and unhurried manner, on which I heard many favorable comments afterwards from members of the congregation. The little ones were baptized by Mr. Powell, starting with the tiniest babies and ending with Marty. All the babies received their tickets to

admission to the Kingdom of Heaven with humility and quiet acceptance, but when Marty’s turn came, and Elizabeth and Zeke, accompanied by Butch, started up from the pew, Marty set up a howl, increasing in tempo and volume and rising to a great crescendo as Mr. Powell did his stuff, and gradually tapering off but continuing until sometime after they were again seated.

Dave then came forward to resume conduct of the service, and amid the hushed expectancy, as he was mounting to the platform,Butch, who seemed to have been a quiet spectator of this — a new experience for him —  recognized Dave, and broke the stillness by saying in a loud, surprised and cordial voice “Hello, Dave”. The ripple of laughter throughout the congregation which followed did not ruffle our boy here. He merely smiled casually and went on with the program.

I referred a while back to the decrease in auto traffic. This seems to have been offset with a surprising stepping up of airplane activity. Even at night as I lay in bed I can frequently hear the whirr of motors. Sikorsky is building a new plant in Bridgeport for the construction of helicopters but I have seen none in operation over Trumbull yet.

Uncle Kemper has just sent us a generous gallon can of maple syrup from his own place in Vermont, and with Grandma’s toothsome griddle cakes and waffles to go with it, I could just picture you all gathering around the kitchen table this morning ready to start action. Yesterday we had the first luscious strawberries from Mr. Laufer’s garden; but perhaps I had better lay off this line or you will be tempted to go A W O L.

Jean, the only one who wrote this week, reports being in Indianapolis where Dick is now stationed. She found a nice clean room in a private home and is now looking for a job. Jean says Dick is having a taste of the real Army now. They have to leave camp every morning at two and don’t get home until eight and they can’t have every night off either.

Grandma, as usual, is doing a splendid job on the culinary end and Aunt Betty is getting to be quite a horticulturalist. Both are well and apparently are good company for one another. At least I have had no complaints. It is so pleasant to get home nights now and find dinner already instead of immediately having to take off my coat and start to get supper.

Now a brief message from the sponsor to individual members of my far-flung audience:

Jean: I have taken care of your income tax as requested. Aunt Betty has done up your blanket in moth balls and put it away for the summer. In looking for a job, it just occurs to me that the Bridgeport Brass Company have quite an active plant in Indianapolis and you might find an opportunity there. I am enclosing the Book-of-the-Month. The July books are by Stephen Benet and Walter Lippmann respectively. The first is a literary essay on American settlers and the second on America’s foreign policy.

Dick: Bobby Kascak is married. I don’t know the details.

Lad: Mrs. Jimmy Smith was very anxious to have me tell you, when next I wrote, that Jim’s brother is in Los Angeles, works as a guard at Warner Brothers pictures, and would be delighted to see somebody from Trumbull. She thinks you also would enjoy yourself if you looked them up.

Dan: Dick Christie is home for a few days. He is still a civilian.

Ced: Have not forgotten the Sunrise Service program, but so far Dave has been unable to locate it.

Well, with Mussolini getting a good swift kick in the pantalleria, I am hoping, like millions of others, that Germany and Japan, before long, will get bombed into a submissive frame of mind and you boys can be back safe and sound in this old Trumbull home of yours. THAT will be the day! Meanwhile, borrow a few minutes from Uncle Sam, and write soon to your expectant and lonesome

DAD

This weekend I’ll be continuing the story of Mary E Wilson, who was born in England, had a hard life but eventually arrived in the United States and was able to achieve the “American Dream”.

Next week, I’ll be posting letters from 1945. We’ll read about Dan’s wedding to Paulette from several sources and different viewpoints.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Fair Blossoms of my Fading Years – May, 1943

The time is getting closer for both Dan and Dick to be shipped overseas but as Jean says, “It could be weeks or months” until it happens. Grandpa is  surely missing his sons and all the work they used to do around the old homestead. At least with two venerable ladies living there, he doesn’t have to deal with fixing the meals and cleaning up after dinner.

The Old Homestead

Trumbull, Conn.   May 23, 1943

Fair blossoms of my fading years:

That reminds me of the story. Prof. Huxley once gave his class in biology the question: “What is a lobster?”, to which one student replied: “a lobster is a red fish that moves backwards”. The good professor retorted that that was a very good answer except for three points: first, a lobster wasn’t red; second, it wasn’t a fish; and third, it didn’t move backwards. None of you are fair (Jean, you’re out of this), you are not blossoms, and I am not fading – – but why go on? “Years” is the only thing left and I have plenty of them.

(There were) three ingredients for the correspondence melting pot this week. Jean (substituting for Dick, as usual) says there is no further news about Dick being shipped, but they have started to crate their supplies for shipment which doesn’t sound very good, but you never can tell. It may be weeks or months before they are shipped. I’d give anything if Dick and I could be in Trumbull right now. If I had my choice between Trumbull and Florida, I’d take Trumbull. It’s so nice and peaceful and everyone is so friendly. Florida is all right but it’s getting too warm for me. (Later) Dick came home Saturday night and told us they were being shipped to another camp. All Miami Beach has to be evacuated to make room for the wounded soldiers from Africa (Just the soldiers have to leave). They are going either to Toledo, Ohio, or Indianapolis, Indiana. So I guess I’ll be moving again but I don’t mind. I like to travel. We wives decided we would stay here until we hear from our husbands which probably won’t be until the end of the month. I started working today at Sears Roebuck, Electrical Appliance Department.

Dan writes: a new company is being formed to fill out the new battalion of which we are a part. There are vague promises of intensive training for overseas service. As a consequence we are reminded that AWOL offenses are now equivalent to desertion. Papers and furloughs will ultimately be granted “to finish up personal affairs at home”, which means that I must wait my turn. I don’t know when that will be.” Well, Dan, whenever it comes, we’ll have the soup kettle on the fire. It used to be an old family custom, if you recall, to have a family get-together on Decoration Day, so if you can get leave for next Sunday, it will be in the best Guion tradition. Incidentally, a later letter to Barbara (Plumb) gives Dan’s address now as: Co, A, Spec. Eng. Topo. Bn., Lancaster, Pa, so change your address books.

A letter from the family’s only Sergeant (Lad) says camp regulations are becoming stiffer with fewer passes for shorter periods. Weather is perfect. He may get a furlough in July or August.

No word this week from the midget of the tundra but he wrote a nice long newsy letter last week so I can’t kick until next week.

Not much local color to report. Flowerbeds and storm windows have occupied my attention yesterday afternoon and today. Have had the lawnmower sharpened but the rain every day last week has made the grass look as bad as Dave’s need for a haircut. The two venerable ladies send their love (by request). They both have numerous bloodless scrapes over who shall do the dishes while insisting the other sits down, etc. I seldom have to referee – – just let them fight it out by themselves because I know it will end in a draw and leave them free to start all over again after the next meal. Until next time,

Your loving           DAD

Tomorrow’s post will mark the end of May, 1943, or Decoration Day, as it was called back then, and then we’ll check up on Biss in St Petersburg (1935), Lad in Venezuela (1939)  and the boys in Alaska (1940). I promise that it will be easier keeping track of everyone once we get to 1942. Would love to read your thoughts on this blog.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – News of The Army Boys and Ced – May, 1943

 We are almost to the middle of the year and the war had engulfed just about all of Grandpa’s sons. No news from Lad who is in Santa Anita training mechanics for the Army and gadding about with a group of friends, including a special person by the name of Marian. Both Dan and Dick are still receiving training but expect to be moving further afield soon.There is quite a bit of news from Ced, Even thought he is not in the Army, he is doing airplane maintenance on Army airplanes stationed near Anchorage. He continues to get deferments because of his job. Dave is the only son still home with Grandpa.

Trumbull, Conn.   May 16, 1943

Alfred D. Guion

To whom it may concern:

Swindled again! Dan did not show up. Just wait until I see that general. Will I give him a piece of my mind. Roast lamb, Grandma’s gravy and homemade rhubarb pie, too. But there, I won’t make it any worse for Dan because he was probably (I hope) just as disappointed as we were. Anyway the weather wasn’t very good, and we still have it to look forward to – – just a natural born optimist.

Usually I do not refer to war news in these letters but the dispatches have been so good this week that they merit some notice. Hitler must be having second thoughts about what he has started.

Still no definite word as to when Dick or Dan move into more active duty. In spite of the word officially given that Dam’s outfit is “going overseas on hazardous duties” I question the hazardous part because it seems to me it is contrary to all Army practices to take a bunch of men who have been highly trained in a special branch and stick them into duties entirely foreign to their training. Dan’s detail is strictly a surveying outfit and while I can imagine many instances where newly won territory would need to be surveyed, they would hardly be used until there was a small chance of the district being retaken, and while I suppose there would always be the chance of a stray bomber coming over, the use of the word hazardous in this connection would be only relative. As for Dick it does not seen within the realm of probability that there would be need of M. P.’s anywhere near front line combat zones. Jean writes asking me to send her Social Security card on to her so that she can capture a job down there, so it does not seem as though she expects Dick to leave so very soon.

A generously long letter from Ced starts out with the same wholehearted approval both Dan and Lad have expressed of grandmother’s coming to stay here. He mentions a busy Easter season singing in the church cantata – – the same one Dan helped with – – (The last 7 words of Christ), the possibility of Woodley enlarging and building a new hangar if a visit he is now making to Washington is successful, a report from Rusty on the progress of his Alaskan tour with the governor, and the fact that he guessed from 5 to 28 days off the beam as to the date of ice breakup in the Nenana River.

It is such a relief not to have to spend all Sunday morning getting dinner. Today I spent most of the day trying to get the barn straightened out and cleaned up. There is still much to do but I made a good start anyway. The lilacs are almost out – – one more sunshiny day will do it. Everything looks fresh and green and clean. Dave cut the grass for the first time this season yesterday.

There does not seem to be much more news of moment that I can recall. Maybe because I am a bit weary with all my unusual physical exertions, so I’ll close with the usual wish expressed by Aunt Betty and Grandma to be remembered to you all.

As ever,

DAD

For the rest of the week I’ll continue to post letters from Grandpa to his sons, scattered all across the country.

Judy Guion

Army Life (5) – Letters From Dave and Aunt Helen – July, 1945

Letter from Dave dated July 24th.

Got your letter written July 8th. I’m glad to see you’re giving thought to this business of seeing the world. About having someone take care of the house, I guess I’ll have to get married. Will that solve the problem? If all the boys moved off to other parts of the world with their families, I could stay there at “Ye Olde Homesteade” with you and the business and we could keep things going. Then, no matter what may happen, there’d always be a home to come back to. My vote is to keep the house by all means. If on the other hand, one of the married factions of the family should stay on in Connecticut and want to live in the house, you and I could set up house in another place. As far as I can see there are no problems.

One thing I’d like to have Dad, is a camera. I suppose that’s an impossible item to get back there. That’s why I put off asking for one ‘til now. I’ve been hoping to get my hands on one here but it seems to be hopeless. I don’t want a good one – – just any old thing that will record the places I’ve been and seen. Yesterday I saw Naha for the first time – – what a mess !! The whole countryside down there is torn up. You’d never know that Naha was as big as it was. So far we haven’t seen anything in the way of typhoons. We get reports of them every so often. For instance, we got a report of the one that hit the naval force off Japan. It was coming up from the south but missed us. Okinawa now has lost a good deal of its quaintness. Native buildings, and in some cases, whole villages, are gone. New, well-made roads have been cut and airfields

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are going up all over. It seems every time they find 3 square feet of flat land they start to build a strip on it. I saw my first B-29 at Kadera airfield the other day – – are they beautiful !! On the side door in the rear of the monster these words were inscribed: “Through These Portals Pass The World’s Best Pilots”. Okinawa, having lost its quaintness in my eyes, is becoming less enjoyable to me. It’s been awfully hot and I’d welcome cooler weather even at the expense of meeting the Imperial Emperor at his home – – provided, of course, that Gen. Stillwell is right in front of me. Don’t try to read between the lines and guess I’ll be moving soon. We’ve received no orders, but just in case I should ever stop writing for a month or so you can expect the letter following the elapsed time to be full of news – – sights in a new land.

July 9, 1945

July 9, 1945

In the July 9th issue of Time magazine there is a picture of a landing spot on Okinawa. It’s a scene of LSTs and equipment on the beach. This is the point at which I came into Okinawa. I thought it might be interesting for you to see this spot. This picture was taken from what was then a narrow, winding, dirt road. At the time I landed, there wasn’t as much equipment on the beach as the picture shows, however. The picture is in an article about re-conversion under Vinson whose picture appears on the front cover. If you like you could save some pictures of Okinawa. As I don’t have a camera maybe I could tell you something of the island through the pictures you save.

(I have just ordered a copy of this magazine and will perhaps be able to share snippets with you.)

Letter from Aunt Helen dated July 29th.

The news about Jean just bowled me over with joy. I think it is perfectly wonderful and I am very happy for both Jean and Dick – – sorry though for all of you in Trumbull. Ted left on the 23rd for the Bahama Islands. He went to Miami by train and from there took a plane for Nassau. It was all rather sudden and so no time for anything but general preparation. It may be a very brief stay. If it develops into something then of course I’ll go down. And am I hoping it will develop into something !! Ted got there about noon on Thursday so there hasn’t been time for me yet to get any news from Nassau. He enjoyed his trip to Miami and the short stay there looking up old friends. If the job develops it will be on the island of Eleuthera. I never knew before that the Bahamas had such an island. It has 7500 inhabitants and we are betting they are mostly Blacks. Oh, I’m working. I’m in the circulating library at Bloomingdale’s (lending library). By the way, since Ted left there is an extra room here. In fact I can put up two. Of course, whoever comes will have to be on their own during the day. I don’t get home until about 630. Dan’s letter is at Anne’s and she will mail it to Dorothy.

Sorry, but I’m fresh out of further quotes maybe it’s a good thing because my finger is developing corns from soaking this thing for 3 ½ hours on my gold watch and chain.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ADG

We have reached the end of this 6-page typed letter, the longest I can remember. Grandpa brings the family totally up-to-date on each of the boys in their own words, which highlights their distinctive personalities; Lad’s analytical approach commenting on each letter from Grandpa in chronological order; Dan’s use of  a wide variety of very descriptive words that actually helps you visualize what he is telling you about; Ced’s rambling jaunt from here to there and back again, indicating his penchant for doing many different things and jumping from one to another quickly; an earlier letter from Grandpa finally inspires Dick to compose a letter, showing his quirky sense of humor and his growing confidence in himself; and finally, Dave’s letter from Okinawa, expressing opinions and observations as he did even as a child. Not much from Grandpa but I hope you thoroughly enjoyed hearing from each of his “boys”. 

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll begin the autobiography of Mary Ellum Wilson, born in England. She came to this country as a young girl but eventually achieved “the American Dream”. She was the mother of a good childhood friend so I knew her personally but never realized how difficult her life had been until I received this from her daughter. It is my honor to share her story with all of you. Enjoy.

Judy Guion